Why the Moon?
When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers,
the moon and stars, which you have set in place,
what is man that you are mindful of him,
the son of man that you care for him?
(Psalm 8:3-4, RSV)
Did God create the moon just to provide “a light for the night,” or a celestial calendar for “times and seasons?” Research since the Apollo missions to the moon suggests an answer. Although the moon was found to be barren of any possibility of life, it appears to be essential for life on earth, revealing details of how God cares for humans, in particular, how he prepared a place for them to flourish.
Our moon is unique in the solar system in composition and large size, making the earth and moon together a virtual double planet. Over the last 200 years, scientists have proposed several theories for the moon’s origin, but none could account for its unusual properties. Finally in the 1980s, the giant-impact theory emerged from Apollo discoveries, and computer simulations could successfully account for the moon’s origin and properties. These simulations required a glancing collision with the earth early in its history by a Mars-size impactor, a collision that would blast vaporized debris into orbit to form the moon.
The giant-impact theory suggests a number of benefits critical to providing conditions needed for life on earth. At least ten essential results appear to be related to such a glancing collision. Five of these are produced by the giant impact itself, and five follow from the moon’s subsequent influence on the earth. Comparisons with neighboring planets suggest that the absence of any of these results might have prevented the development of life on earth.
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